"What's wrong with it?" the no-questions-asked customer service rep asked as I plunked the weighty box on the counter.
"It's slow and has HDMI issues," I said.
She nodded, and with a few magic swipes of her bar-code reader, my MasterCard was credited for the correct amount and--thank you, Best Buy--I was free to go. But instead of leaving right away, I headed to the back of the store to check out the HD-DVD display. When I'd bought the player 29 days earlier, a day before the player was to be released officially, no demo was running. But now there was one, and it was looping.
In case you haven't seen it, the demo's divided into two parts. One part has clips that feature various impressive-looking trailers--the King Kong trailer, in particular, looks awesome. But scattered among them is a woman narrator with an English accent talking over a split-screen picture comparing an HD-DVD image to a standard-definition image. The problem is the standard-def image looks truly horrible, blurry, and much worse than just about any DVD that not only I but the Best Buy rep standing next me said he had ever watched. Underneath the standard-definition label is a disclaimer that reads, "simulation."
What Toshiba might say in its defense is that the demo shows a comparison between an HD source and a standard-definition TV signal displayed on an HDTV--which often does look pretty bad but can also look much better than the demo footage. However, the correct comparison is clearly HD-DVD to DVD, movie to movie.
Consumers who have little experience with high-definition content may be swayed by the demo, but I think it's unfortunate that Toshiba has to stoop to this level. The fact is the HD-DVD clips look really good and should be able to stand on their own merit. What do you think?
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